CWU News

CWU Study Reveals How State's Public Teachers Spend Their Workdays

Central Washington University's College of Education's year-long Teacher Time Study reveals how Washington State public K-12 schoolteachers spend the hours of their workdays. CWU was directed by the Washington State Legislature to conduct this study. Legislators wanted to know what percentage of the day teachers spend on teaching related duties and what percentage is spent on duties not directly related to teaching. The study is the most comprehensive effort undertaken by any state to assess how much of teachers' time is devoted to direct instruction. You can read the entire study at

CWU researchers tracked every workday within the 2013-14 school year. Specific activities defined by teachers, principals and superintendents across the state, provided the categories of time spent. The research methodology had three tiers:

Tier I) Teacher Surveys (693 teachers)

Tier II) Teacher Time Logs tracked on electronic devices (40 teachers)

Tier III) Interviews (36 teachers)

Study participants were randomly selected from the state’s database of 5,000 teachers. Only full-time K-12 teachers and specialist teachers were selected. Mapping participant locations determined thorough geographical representation statewide.
The CWU Teacher Time Study found that while the contracted day is 6.5 hours, of which one hour is assumed to be devoted to non-instructional activities duties:

  • On average, teachers spend 1.4 hours longer at school each day;
  • Of the 6.5 + 1.4 hours, 2.4 hours are spent on non-instructional activities—of which only one hour is officially allotted;
  • Teachers in the Tier-I survey reported that almost 73 percent of their workday was spent in direct instruction with students;
  • Up to 17.8 percent of instruction time was spent preparing students for state tests.


“Our analysis,” said James L. DePaepe, the study’s principal researcher and director of the CWU's Office of Organizational Effectiveness, “found that across the study’s three tiers—surveys, time logs and interviews—the results were consistent, indicating reliability and relevance.”  

“CWU was chosen by the State Legislature to conduct this study,” said Dean Connie Lambert, College of Education and Professional Studies, “because of our legacy of producing quality teachers for Washington’s classrooms. CWU ranks first in the state in the number of teachers we graduate each year—12th in the nation. And we have the largest college of education in Washington State."

Contact: Jackie O’Ryan, Public Affairs, 509-607-9932, jackieo@cwu.ed

Photo: Teacher Dawn Sparks, Thorp School. In 2011,President Barack Obama selected Thorp High School science teacher Dawn Sparks as a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.